Warning: Very very long post
Sometime back during a conversation between me and my colleague, it came out that he was a rabid Atheist. And like most Atheists this gentleman too tried to bait me, a believer into an argument about the existence of an entity called, God. This gentleman lets call him SJ, felt that even without following a religion he was a good human being as any other religious person. He really didn’t need to go to Church or bow and scrape his knees on the Church floor to be a good human being. I asked him how he had become in his own words a “reasonably good human” being. He told me that he did what he thought was right, followed his conscience and was reasonably nice to people. I then asked him how he had learnt to judge what was right and wrong. He was a bit taken aback and gave me a reasonably unconvincing answer. I then pointed out to him that it was his God fearing parents who had influenced him the most during his growing up years and it was their beliefs that shaped him to be what he is today. He had imbibed the values of Christianity and after a point like a child who is on walker, discarded the walker and begun to walk alone. I thought he would slap me from the expression on his face.
This post is not about how corrupt religion has become or about the evils perpetrated in the name of religion. This post is about a great way of life called Christianity that now lies in the hands of nincompoops. Today, Christianity is a great learning ground for a child. We grow up learning that God loves the poor and meek. We are told to help the needy and sick and the downtrodden and we learn that it is our duty to help others in distress. Our simple questions are answered eloquently if we are lucky, by people like Sr. Mary.
Then comes adolescence and suddenly there is no one to guide us or answer the complex questions that is aroused in the mind of the young adult by the very teachings of Christianity. The usual clichéd answers by incompetent spiritual leaders and teachers lead to disillusionment and finally for some a fall away from the Church. You cannot teach people to think independently and then bullshit them. And herein lies a vacuum that the Church should seriously look into. The challenge lies in addressing this generation that the Church had nurtured at a young age. There is no one to take on the mantle from the primary and secondary Catechism teachers. Kids are left in a limbo.
Another area the Church has to change in is the attitude of Priest that they are owners of the Church. They preach from the pulpit that “you dear people are the Church, not this building” but advise them on matters regarding the Church and they brush you aside. Recently I attended a more than jam packed Sunday Mass at one of the overflowing Churches in Bangalore. After the mass I asked the Parish priest why he wasn’t increasing the frequency of Sunday Masses like other Churches and his flippant answer was that the faithful should not mind the minor discomforts of a crowded Church. I wanted to do some really unchristian things to him right then.
The Church should be made a community property and not a place where you come as a infrequent visitor on Sundays. When you give the onus of the Church in the hands of a few people, then you have to ensure that these people are squeaky clean or else as representatives of the Church a single wrong move by them can jeopardize the Church itself.
A vast majority of people like me still follow the religion ignoring the nincompoops that our religious leaders are, because we realize that we are what we are to a great extent due to our religion and ironically this religion has also enlightened us to recognize the nincompoops and ignore them.
I now practice my religion on my own volition and not because I am born to Christian parents. Which I think what Christianity is all about. It is not about the word ‘Christian’ in the religion column of a Passport form. Of course I will slap you back if you slap me…I won’t turn the other cheek which is why I am still Silverine and not St Silverine. But I also believe that had I been born a non Christian I would have eventually converted to Christianity at some point in my life.
This post is not about the merits of demerits of Christianity or other religions and so comments on the same are not welcome. This is just a dispassionate look at the state of the Church today.
Thank you Mind Curry for finally prodding me to right about something I wanted to write for a long time with your excellent post.
And apologies if I sound preachy, feel free to throw eggs on the monitor and yes, some green chillies too and ...guess you all know the drill by now :p